STEPHENVILLE- The Tarleton track and field teams open the 2020 season this weekend as they head to the Texas Tech Corky Classic for the third year in a row.
"Texas Tech has a premium facility and is in close proximity to us. The athletes enjoy competing there and the competition is always superior," said head coach Pat Ponder. "We'll be competing with 18 teams, including five to six from the Lone Star Conference (LSC), giving us great exposure for the season. I like to say that this is a great benchmark meet for us. Finishing this meet gives us a good picture of where we need to go with training for the rest of the season. It also offers a great opportunity to go up against some Division I schools, which allows us to see where we're at as we prepare for next season."
Combined among the men and women's teams, Tarleton will have 41 returning student-athletes while adding 43 incoming freshmen and five collegiate transfers. This season will mark Ponder's 13th as the head coach of the men and women's cross country and track and field programs. Ponder will be accompanied by assistant coach Clay Holland, who will be starting his second season with the Texans.
Tarleton returns all-LSC third team recipient Anterius Brown for his final season. Brown recorded his career high in the 400 meters (47.35) at the LSC Outdoor Championship. The Texans will be welcoming transfer Cornell Sayles, who was a freshman national qualifier in the 100m and sprint relay for Huston-Tillotson last year. He was an NAIA Red River Conference 200-meter and 100-meter champion. Junior Kylee Ponder was named to the All-LSC third team last season with first place finishes in the 400-meter at the East Texas Invitational (56.7), Angelo State David Noble Relays (57.22) and in the East Texas Quad (57.68).
Cornelius Coleman returns for his junior season after leading the team last year with a second-place finish in the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 15.11 and a career-best in the 100 meters (11.68) at the East Texas Invitational. Kamrynn Schiller will be returning for her final season with the Texans after earning her career best in the 100-meter hurdles (15.25) at the Angelo State David Noble Relays last year.
All-LSC second team recipient Michael Simcho returns for his senior season with the Texans. Simcho placed first in the distance medley relay (10:21.12) at the Texas Tech Open as a junior and boasted a second place finish in the 1500-meter run (3:54.90) at the East Texas Invitational. The Texans will welcome transfer Jesus Mata, who ran two years for Western Texas College and earned his way to become a national qualifier both seasons while placing fourth in the National Outdoor Champions in the 4x800 meters. Junior Imani Williams returns for the Texans after placing third in the distance medley relay (12:44.63) and eighth in the Lone Star Outdoor Championship in the 1500-meters (5:02.38) last year.
Tarleton returns All-LSC third team recipient Alan Palmer for his sophomore season. Alan Palmer was a 2019 provisional qualifier after recording a career best in the triple jump (12.80m) at the East Texas Quad. All-LSC third team recipient Jasmine McQuirter returns for her senior season. McQuirter advanced to the NCAA Division II Outdoor Championship, earning 16th place in the long jump (5.78m). McQuirter was named the Lone Star Conference Field Female Athlete of the Week after her performance at the East Texas Invitational, earning second place on the 100-meter dash (12.4), while setting a personal best in the long jump (5.93m).
"Jasmine is a competitor and I know she is ready to start her senior year on a high note. She's ready to get back to nationals and I suspect that this weekend will be a good start for her," said Ponder.
Kendal Dearth returns for his second season with the Texans as a dual-sport athlete. Dearth, who also started on the offensive line for the Texan football team, earned his best finishes of the 2019 season at the East Texas Quad and third place in the shot put (13.96m) and discus throw (40.92m). Tarleton's field events on the men's side will also be highlighted with the addition of key signee, Oscar Rodriguez.
"Oscar is our biggest signee in the throws he was a state champ in a 6A district, which is the biggest district in Texas", said Ponder.
On the women's side, sophomore Kristen Kuehler came out with a career best in the shot put (11.28m) while also recording two personal best in the discus throw (41.62m) and the hammer throw (42.23m) at the LSC Outdoor Championship. Elena Reagan will begin her third season with the Texans after earning a career best at the Angelo State David Noble Relays in the hammer throw (37.07). Jeneka Jackson and Marshae Davis will join the Texans in 2020. Jackson was a three-year letterman for track and field at Huntsville High School where she was a district champion, area champion and regional qualifier. Davis lettered in track all four years at Gilmer High School earning all-state and all-region awards.
Emily Castleberry will begin her junior season for the Texans. Castleberry recorded a career-best in the pentathlon (2873 points), earning two career-highs in the heptathlon (4040 points) and javelin (36.78m) at the LSC Outdoor Championship. Chandee Bachmeyer will be starting her sophomore season with the Texans. Bachmeyer earned her highest finish of the season coming in fourth place at the East Texas Quad (10.61m).
The Texans will spend the first three months of their season on the road with meets in Lubbock, Arlington, Austin, San Angelo, and Commerce before returning to Stephenville for their first home track meet since the 2016 season when they host the Joe Gillespie Invitational on April 16 in the newly-renovated Memorial Stadium.
"We'll be hosting a home track meet here for the first time in three years, the Joe Gillespie on April 16th," said coach Ponder. "I'm looking forward to letting the athletes run in front of a home crowd, which I know they're very excited about. This event is also giving us a great opportunity to showcase our new facilities."
Tarleton will make their indoor debut this weekend at Texas Tech.